You may not mean to use someone else's work without acknowledgement, but the consequences can be the same as if you did (failing the assignment, or the module, or even the course).
You may be unsure about how and when to reference, and how to get the balance right between demonstrating your research and using your own ideas. Developing this knowledge is an essential part of academic study.
Correct referencing is the cornerstone of all academic work. It ensures that due credit is given to the authors of any sources you may have used in your study (research), as well as demonstrating your understanding and familiarity with the resources.
Practice good note-making - ALWAYS make a note of the details and page number of the text or paper that you are reading, next to your own notes and mark up direct quotes carefully to distinguish them from your own ideas.
If you have a brilliant quote or argument, but you don't know (and can't find out) where it came from to reference it, DON'T USE IT. It's not worth the risk.
The University’s definition of plagiarism can come in several forms, including using another person’s work, content from a published paper or on a website. Like all academic institutions, Reading takes plagiarism incredibly seriously, and students who are found to have plagiarised can be faced with a number of penalties; the most severe of which being expulsion from the University.
To find out about the full details on academic misconduct, visit our Examinations handbook.